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When do I have to pay back a reverse mortgage loan?

Reverse mortgage loans typically are repayable when you die, but may need to be repaid sooner if you no longer use the home as your principal residence, or fail to pay taxes or insurance, or make needed repairs.

Most reverse mortgages are Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), insures HECMs. A HECM loan has to be paid off when the last surviving borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse dies. The loan also becomes due when the last surviving borrower sells the home or permanently moves out.  

Note: This webpage has information about HECMs, which are the most common type of reverse mortgage.

A key requirement of a HECM is that you occupy your home as your principal residence. When the home is no longer your principal residence and you are the only borrower, your loan will become due.   

Each calendar year, you will be required to certify in writing that you occupied your home as your principal residence.   

Note that the home will not be considered your principal residence if one of the following conditions applies:

  • You are absent for a majority of the year for a non-medical reason; or
  • You are absent for more than 12 consecutive months for a medical reason 

If you have a co-borrower, your co-borrower can continue living in the home – and the loan will not become due – even if you die or move out of the home.

A reverse mortgage loan also becomes due if you stop paying your property taxes or homeowner’s insurance, or fail to maintain the property in good repair.  

Get Help

Talk to a HUD-approved reverse mortgage (HECM) counselor. Visit  or call HUD's housing counselor referral line at (800) 569-4287.

Here are two ways to find a lawyer:

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